NHS Blood and Transplant – COVID-19 convalescent plasma programme
You may be aware that NHS Blood and Transplant (NHSBT) is collecting COVID-19 convalescent plasma for a major coronavirus treatment trial. And, if this trial is successful, for widespread use in hospitals. Anyone who has had coronavirus or the symptoms can offer to donate at a donor centre by calling 0300 123 23 23 or completing the online form at www.nhsbt.nhs.uk
What is convalescent plasma?
Convalescent plasma is plasma from people who have recovered from an infection. Recovered patients’ plasma may contain antibodies that their immune systems have produced in fighting the virus. That plasma can be transfused to patients whose immune systems are struggling to develop their own antibodies. The trials will investigate whether transfusions may improve a patient’s speed of recovery and chances of survival. Plasma can also be collected and frozen ahead of any second wave of COVID-19.
The convalescent plasma donation process
Convalescent plasma is being collected at NHSBT’s 23 donor centres and ‘pop-up’ centres around the country. The donation takes about 45 minutes. Your body usually replaces the plasma you’ve donated in 24-48 hours and you can get on with your normal day after donating. Your body quickly replaces the antibodies and people can donate plasma as often as every two weeks. During plasma donation, your red blood cells are returned to you. This means you can carry on with daily life easily and donate as often as every two weeks. People generally say it’s painless and we say the needle is a ‘sharp scratch’. Potential donors are being prioritised so there may be a delay in responding to some people. People who became more ill with COVID-19 are more likely to have high antibody levels.
Convalescent plasma from Asian donors is more likely to save lives
We are encouraging more Asian people, in particular South Asian men, to donate convalescent plasma. Reports have shown that Asian convalescent plasma donors were almost twice as likely to have high antibody levels as white donors. 63% of Asian donors met the threshold, compared to 36% of white donors. You can read more here
That’s why we are sharing this information with our key stakeholders who may fit into this category or would be able to reach out to people from Asian backgrounds who have recovered from COVID-19. Please help us spread this message far and wide – attached to this email are social media assets, posters, and leaflets you are able to share.
Thank you for all your support and life-saving work!
Geraldine Parker – National BAME Marketing Manager, NHS Blood and Transplant